8th June 2022

Celebrating the Unsung Heroes of the Great Wars with National Memorial Arboretum

We’ve partnered with National Memorial Arboretum and artist Tasawar Bashir on a free sound art installation which will explore previously untold stories of historic service and sacrifice from Birmingham’s South Asian communities. 

The new installation will open at the end of June at the National Memorial Arboretum and will celebrate the forgotten men and women who contributed to many military campaigns between 1914 and 1947. The stories will be narrated by community elders who Bashir has been working alongside in Birmingham for the past 12 months.   

During the First and Second World Wars, the Indian Army recruited many ‘begaris’ (the landless) who were the forgotten unsung heroes, playing vital roles as low rank soldiers or non-military functionaries such as porters or stretcher bearers.  

Due to their low profile and less glamorous roles, their history was largely ignored by official military narratives and subsequent generations of British-born South Asians have either no knowledge or many unanswered questions about elders who took part in various military campaigns. 

Tasawar’s new installation will be part of National Memorial Arboretum‘s Sports, Service and Commonwealth’ programme of exhibitions, events and activities that shine a light on the camaraderie of communities from across the Commonwealth. Find out more.